Understanding the global players of hybrid genre mobile games

A new report from Kantar and Google reveals valuable insights into mobile gaming – a thriving industry experiencing huge growth.
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COVID-19 has dramatically reshaped our lives and mobile gaming is one of the few sectors rapidly growing. Seven in 10 gamers globally use their smartphone to play, and in April alone, they spent an average of 4.3 hours playing daily. This already competitive, high value market is now on track to surpass US$100 billion across all mobile app stores in 2020.

Kantar and Google are proud to release new insights into mobile gaming trends in a new report: ‘Understanding the global players of hybrid genre games’, the latest study from a long-term partnership identifying market-leading technology trends.

Hybrid games have risen seven times faster in global spend than the average mobile game*

As more gamers download, play and spend money on mobile games, it's the ‘hybrid’ genres commanding their time. Hybrid is the new mixed gameplay experience based on the success of games that combine two or more types of play with multiple design elements from different genres. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to talk to hybrid genre gamers aged 18-49 in four key markets (USA, Japan, Germany and Korea) we found that the rapid growth in the hybrid genre is driven by its ability to address the top pain-points for why gamers stop playing other mobile games. Key findings include:

1. Discovery has many levels of influence

“My nieces asked me to download it so that we can share lives in gaming…”

The discovery of new mobile games is a complicated process. Discovery can come from many places, including word-of-mouth (41%), social media (40%), online videos (34%), and app store rankings (40%) and ratings (37%). All of these sources help gamers feel more confident in their decision to download and try a new game. However, the main form of gameplay must still align with their original preference. For example, Gardenscapes is still chosen by players who prefer puzzle games even though the game has other gaming elements.

2. The nature of hybrid games combats issues with engagement

“Aside from just the match three puzzle, you can actually start to build stuff and see what you're doing. It makes me feel accomplished.”

The ease of jumping in and out of the game as well as a simple gameplay drives the appeal of hybrid games to mobile gamers. Combining two or more gameplay types attracts players and keeps engagement – defeating typical reasons for churn. Hybrid gamers are less likely to delete a game because it is no longer engaging, is repetitive or isn’t challenging.

3. There are big opportunities for investment and monetisation

“It’s not a free reward; it is me giving them my time instead of my money and getting something in return.”

Understanding what attracts people to hybrid games and what keeps them playing is critical as players become more invested and more inclined to spend. We found that engaged players are likely to both make in-app purchases and watch reward ads – the two forms of monetisation that don’t cannibalise each other. 33% of hybrid gamers watch reward ads to get more lives / energy and 28% make in-app purchases to get access to rates and exclusive items. In game rewards, ads are used to continue gameplay whereas in-app purchasing enhances gameplay. However, ads and purchases need to be relevant to the gameplay and contribute to players getting further in the game.

*Based on year-over-year growth of 15 hybrid genre games, which have consumer spend records since Jan 2019, out of 38 games covered in the study. Combined iOS and Google Play, Worldwide (iOS only for China). The 38 games are identified through desktop research and expert review for the study but not according to any defined category on Google Play or App Annie. Source: App Annie Intelligence.

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